Bible Reading Is Invaluable
Bible reading is a most important part of the counseling process. Since “the Word of God is alive and active,” the counselor prayerfully chooses passages of the Scriptures for the counselee to read and study that will be most helpful to the counselee. Then the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18) uses the Scriptures since “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) to transform the counselee to be like Christ. Those of you that have been involved in intentional discipleship for any time have had the wonderful privilege of seeing the hand of God use His Word in a counselee’s life.
Bible Reading Has to Continue
A challenge with regard to Bible reading comes toward the closing of the counseling process. During the counseling, you have been most diligent in assigning Bible reading “Projects for Growth” (also known as “Homework,” but only kids do homework). But now what will the counselee do for Bible reading for the rest of their lives? A well-intentioned counselor may kindly say, “Now that you have the habit of reading the Scriptures each day, continue this most valuable discipline for the rest of your life even long after you have forgotten my name.” But where do they read? Up to now, you have told them where to do it. After counseling, some counselees fall off the wagon with regard to Bible reading, because they have gone from a time of intense structure to “you’re on your own.”
May I propose for your consideration a most simple, straight-forward, and easy plan that will keep them in the Word of God until they develop their own pattern? One that I have found helpful is simply called “Reading the New Testament this Year.” For over 30 years, this has been a principal means that God has used in my life for ingesting His Word (Matthew 4:4), for communing with Him through His Word (1 John 1:2-4), and for cooperating with His transforming work in my life (Romans 12:1-2).
How this plan is followed is even simpler than the name. Basically, you read somewhere between a chapter of the New Testament each day to five chapters a week. That’s all there is to it in terms of complexity. No charts to follow or dividing the reading in the middle of chapters. The plan works since there are 365 days in a year but just 260 chapters in the New Testament. So there are many more days to read in a year than chapters to be read. Actually, only five chapters need to be read each week. If five chapters are read each of the 52 weeks of the year, then a total of 260 will be read. This is exactly how many chapters there are in the New Testament. So if a day or two of reading is missed in a week or a reader desires to linger in a chapter for an extra day, the plan accommodates this perfectly.
The most direct way to start this adventure with God is to just begin reading Matthew chapter 1 the first day. Then read the 2nd chapter of Matthew the second and so on until the Gospel of Matthew is complete. After that, begin reading the second book of the New Testament, Mark, and continuing through all 27 books as they are laid out in the New Testament. This is certainly the most direct and easiest way to proceed through the New Testament.
Life of Christ Throughout
To provide a regular reading about the life of Jesus throughout the year, there is another way of ordering the reading. The above outlined method has the Gospels read all at once in the beginning of the year. This has its value, but there is merit to reading of the Gospels throughout the year. To do this, begin reading the Book of Matthew as outlined above. Once Matthew is complete, then proceed to reading the Book of Acts and then on through the rest of the New Testament with periodic Gospel readings that evenly divide the New Testament. To accomplish this, after reading through Romans, read Mark. After Ephesians, read Luke. And finally after Hebrews, read John, and then complete the reading of the New Testament on through Revelation.
With this plan of reading, the counselee (and me) are soon reading in Revelation and eager to begin the New Testament over again, along with readings from the Old Testament added as well. In practice, near the end of our counseling time, I assign this plan as part of their Bible reading so as to make sure any bumps are worked out before they’re on their own. By following this simple plan, your counselee will be able to stay on track, constantly reading the Word of God even when your time of intentional discipleship has come to a close.